The Houston Rockets, if you haven’t been paying attention, are on fire. They’ve won 14 in a row and have the best record (25-4) in the NBA. Heck, even the Warriors (24-6), who have won nine straight, haven’t been able to keep up. They trail the Rockets by 1.5 games in the Western Conference.
Why has Houston been so hot lately?
“The injury to Chris Paul, I think, helped them because it got them to establish an identity,” CBS Sports NBA insider Matt Moore said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “PJ Tucker, Luc Mbah a Moute – those guys came in and helped really revamp Houston’s defense and made them into this lockdown team. They play fast, but they play great defense, and that gets them out in transition even more.”
Paul has been splendid since his return from a knee injury. He’s averaging 17.7 points, 9.3 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per game.
“He’s been lights out,” Moore said. “They found a balance between Harden and Paul. When I talked to Mike D’Antoni this summer, he said, ‘I’m not worried about those two fitting together because they want to play together, and when they want to play together, when they look to play together, they’re going to figure out how to make it work.'”
That hasn’t been the case for, say, Oklahoma City (15-15), which added Paul George and Carmelo Anthony this offseason. Of course, Paul wanted to sign with Houston. George and Anthony didn’t necessarily want to go to Oklahoma City. They were traded there.
“This wasn’t the preferred location for those guys,” Moore said. “But in Houston, everyone on that team, that’s where they want to be. They believe in that squad and they’re playing great basketball. That’s why they’ve been absolutely so red-hot.”